Dr. C. George Boeree
Welcome to the General Psychology e-text! These pages were originally created for the students of my General Psychology classes at Shippensburg University. They deal with most of the issues covered in standard textbooks, but without the outrageous price tags.
Psychology is the study of the mind, along with such aspects of mind as perception, cognition, emotion, and behavior. In some ways, it has only been around since the late 1800's, when people like Wilhelm Wundt, William James, and Sigmund Freud separated it from its various mother disciplines such as biology, philosophy, and medicine. But in other ways, it has been around as long as human beings have been discussing human beings. I suspect that cavemen and cavewomen probably sat around the fire talking about the same things we do: How come their kids are weird, why can't men and women get along better, what's with those folks from the next valley, how come old Zook hasn't been the same since that rock hit him, and what do dreams really mean.
Today, psychology tries to be a science. Science is the effort to study a subject with an explicit promise to think as logically and stick to the empirical facts as tightly as is humanly possible. Other sciences -- chemistry, physics, biology, and so on -- have had great success this way. Our cave-person ancestors would be astounded at our understanding of the world around us! But the subject matter of psychology (and the other human sciences) is harder to pin down. We human beings are not as cooperative as some green goo in a test tube! It is a nearly impossible situation: To study the very thing that studies, to research the researcher, to psychoanalyze the psychoanalyst.
So, as you will see, we still have a long way to go in psychology. We have a large collection of theories about this part of being human or that part; we have a lot of experiments and other studies about one particular detail of life or another; we have many therapeutic techniques that sometimes work, and sometimes don't. But there is a steady progress that is easy to see for those of us with, say, a half century of life behind us. We are a bit like medicine in that regard: Don't forget that it wasn't really that long ago when we didn't have vaccines for simple childhood diseases, or anesthesia for operations; heart attacks and cancer were things people simply died of, as opposed to things that many people survive; and mental patients were people we just locked away or lobotomized!
day -- sooner rather than later, I
think -- we will have the
kinds of understanding of the human mind as we are quickly developing
the human body. The nice thing is, you and I can participate in
process! And this little e-text is as good a place to start as
The Action Potential
The Central Nervous System
Images of the Brain
The Emotional Nervous System
The Basal Ganglia
Sensation and Perception
Emotion and Motivation
Learning and Memory
Nature and Nurture
A Psychosocial History of the Human Species
Getting a Picture of a Society
Selected Portions of the APA's Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns
Psychological Problems of Childhood
Piaget: Cognitive Development
Erikson: Psychosocial Development
The Bio-Social Theory of Neurosis